(This is the 19th in a series of articles that will appear in the Morning Call each Monday and Thursday throughout the Bicentennial year. they will show the progress of the Revolutionary war and the quest of the colonists for freedom and self government.)
July 8,1776, an election was held in what was then Northampton County for members of the First Constitutional Convention in Pennsylvania. Townships west of the Lehigh River, with what is now Lehigh County comprised the 2nd district of Northampton County. They voted in Northamptontowne (now Allentown) John Gerhart, David Deshler and George Breineg were local election judges.
Elected to the convention from this district were Peter Rhoads of Northamptontowne and Peter Burkhalter of Whitehall township. The convention met at the State House in Philadelphia July 15, 1776.
Earlier, on June 25, an urgent appeal of deputies of the Pennsylvania Provincial Conference had aroused the area people. Their anxiety resulted in the rapid organization of troops, one company of which was headed by Henry Hagenbuch of Northampton. This company participated two months later in the Battle of Brooklyn.
During that battle Lt. Cols. Nicholas Lotz of Reading and Peter Kichlein of Easton each commanded some 200 men of the Flying Camp. Both led their troops into battle and the units took great losses because Gen. William Howe had fortified Brooklyn Heights with 16,000 troops against fewer than 14,000 under Gen. George Washington. There were some places along the line where the British exceeded the Americans 3 to 1. An advanced guard of British troops moved at 2 a.m., "the dead of night" Aug. 27 against the Americans. The colonists' guards were scattered. And "there was hardly an exchange of fire." when about 800 American troops were taken prisoner.
The main battle took place along what was known as the Narrows Road, between 38th and 40th Sts. Brooklyn. The Americans were defeated because the British not only outnumbered but also outflanked and surprised them on the Jamaica Road. Both Lotz and Kachlein were taken prisoner, as well as were 4 other officers of the Northampton Contingent. They , with other prisoners were exchanged Sept 10, 1779.
Washington withdrew from New York and started his march across New Jersey into Pennsylvania. About this time, a number of 17,000 Hussian troops furnished Great Britain by Germany were added to the British forces and they joined Gen. Howe in the pursuit of the Americans. History relates how a great contingent of Hessians was later captured at the battle of Trenton, and how they were taken to Lancaster/ Reading and Allentown.
Taking the German mercenaries to the Pennsylvania towns resulted in occasional disturbances. Prisoners and American citizens were unable to get along, and there was a series of altercations. A number of the Hessians were moved to a hold the captured soldiers. The place became known as the "Hessian Camp." A number were also held at a point in the vicinity of Jordan and Gordon streets in what is now known as Allentown.